`Eid Al-Adha has unique spiritual, devotional, educational, and social meanings. It implants in the Muslim’s heart the spirit of sharing and caring. It has special rituals, ethics, and values that could, if properly observed, change a Muslim’s affairs to the better.
On the day of Eid, a Muslim is recommended by the Sunnah to have a shower before going to the Eid Prayer and wear the best of his or her clothes. This reflects Islam’s care for cleanliness and beauty. A Muslim should be careful regarding his or her appearance, dress, and personal hygiene.
In the early morning of the Eid day, a Muslim goes out to pray Eid with his or her fellow brothers and sisters. Every member of the community should share the happiness and attend the gathering of the Eid. Kids, women and men, young and elderly, should go out for the Eid Prayer. It is well-known that even women in their menses are allowed to go out and watch the `Eid Prayer and celebration in the open areas (al-musala) to share the community this blessed time. These implants in the Muslim’s heart the sense of brotherhood, unity, and togetherness.
After the Eid Prayer, Muslims are advised—according to the Sunnah—to change their route on returning from the Prayer. Jabir ibn Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to change his routes on the day of Eid. (Al-Bukhari) This wonderful recommended practice aims at, among others, giving the Muslim a chance to meet more friends, neighbors, and community members in order to exchange Eid greetings and cement social ties.
Offering the udhiyyah—a highly recommended rite of `Eid Al-Adha—manifests the great spirit of sharing and caring. All members of the family are recommended to share and witness the udhiyyah. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) used to ask his beloved daughter Fatimah to witness the udhiyyah. It was reported that the Prophet said to his daughter Fatimah, “Watch your udhiyah (while it is slaughtered) as you are forgiven with the first drop of its blood.” (Al-Bayhaqi)
Moreover, the desirable division of the udhiyyah into three thirds—one third for the family, another for relatives, and a third for the poor—is another brilliant example that shows how far the Adha day implants love and care in the Muslims’ hearts for family, relatives, and for the whole society.
In the Muslim Ummah (community), no one is ignored or left alone, as every member of the Muslim community should, not only, take care of his/her close family and relatives but of all fellow Muslims.
Many Qur’anic verses and prophetic hadiths teach that Muslims are brothers and sisters, and it is the established duty of brothers and sisters to look after the needs of each other. This impressive lesson of Al-Adha, should it be understood and translated into practice, could help reform the current conditions of Muslims.
Eid is a day for exchanging visits and maintaining family ties. Maintaining ties of kinship is an established duty that every Muslim should carry out. Eid is a golden chance to bring the family members together, and to visit one’s relatives, friends, and community members. The Eid day should not pass without visiting, calling, or e-mailing one’s relatives and family members in order to exchange Eid greetings and cement family ties.
During my visit to the USA two years ago, I knew about a “Eid Party” to be organized by the Islamic Center; a party that aims at bringing the members of the community together to share the Eid spirit and happiness. I, thereby, admired the idea and encouraged all my friends to attend the `Eid party in order to come closer to each other.
On the Eid day, Muslims are recommended to engage in public takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) in the masjids, market-places, streets, etc. This ibadah (act of worship) connects Muslims spiritually and spreads mercy, peace of mind, tranquility, and happiness. Hearts and bodies, therefore, enjoy `Eid rituals and celebrations. People meet, care for, and greet one another, and hearts find peace and blessings in praising and worshipping Allah, Most High.
`Eid is a day on which a Muslim should bring himself or herself closer to Allah by means of doing good deeds—such as Prayers, caring for the poor and the needy, visiting the sick people, helping those who are in need, etc.—and refraining from evil practices such harming people and severing ties of kinship.
In short, Eid Al-Adha is a model for the Muslim community which maintains love, care, brotherhood, beauty, and solidarity. Eid has significant social, educational, devotional, and spiritual messages that Muslims should grasp and translate into a complete way of life.
By Wael Shihab